Illegal Travellers encampments and the mess left behind costs Derby taxpayers thousands

Travellers illegally pitched up at the Springwood Leisure Centre Car Park in July, forcing the venue to close for a weekend. Travellers illegally pitched up at the Springwood Leisure Centre Car Park in July, forcing the venue to close for a weekend.
Travellers illegally pitched up at the Springwood Leisure Centre Car Park in July, forcing the venue to close for a weekend.
Illegal Travellers and their mess cost Derby taxpayers thousands

Illegal Traveller encampments at two well-known sites in Derby over the summer have cost taxpayers thousands of pounds, it has been revealed.

Earlier this year authorities were called after Travellers pitched up at Springwood Leisure Centre and the city’s Rainbow Park where frequent anti-social behaviour was reported.

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Springwood Leisure Centre, owned and run by Derby City Council, was forced to close after a large group of Travellers descended on the car park on July 15. The venue, used by hundreds of people each day, was closed for a full weekend (July 15 and 16) for “the safety of staff and customers”. Councillors at the time said that staff at the leisure centre had been threatened by the visitors.

New figures have been released which state the forced closure caused lost income to the city council of £1,389. The council was forced to pay out £600 for security and then paid a fee of £315.60 to fully clean up the site after the Travellers left the premises.

Months before the incident, a 2.2-metre height barrier was installed at the entrance to the leisure centre. It was said that this was installed in an attempt to stop Travellers from getting in after previous problems in years gone by but it was said the group damaged the barrier with a crowbar.

Later in July it was reported that Travellers had illegally pitched up at Rainbow Park in Breadsall Hill Top – a children’s park. Reports at the time stated that the group would be allowed to stay for nearly a month after one of the babies within the group was admitted to hospital.

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Parents and other residents complained of numerous issues at the park after the group arrived. Complaints included bin bags piled up near trees, loud music and dogs running loose.

New figures have been released revealing the cost of the clean-up after the Travellers left came to £1,287.88. A further £600 bill was paid out in what the council has described as “cost of facilities”, which effectively means the provision of toilets.

The total cost to the council and the Derby taxpayer for the Traveller encampments comes to £4,252.48, which has raised alarm with councillors in Derby.

Oakwood councillors Matthew Eyre, Jamie Mulhall and Freya Trewhella released a joint statement calling for more funding to be made available to protect public locations from such illegal encampments.

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It said: “Throughout the unauthorised encampments at Springwood Leisure Centre and Rainbow Park, we had dozens of residents reporting various instances of anti-social behaviour to us and to various organisations. We now find out it also cost Derby taxpayers over £4,200 in lost income and clean-up costs.

“This really calls into question the existing processes that are followed when unauthorised encampments are taking place, and the decisions made in these circumstances specifically.

“As these were not the first instances at either site, the council should now do the right thing and make additional money available to strengthen existing, and add extra, anti-encampment measures at both locations, to prevent unauthorised encampments, and the chaos they can bring, from happening there again.”

Derby City Council was asked if it was concerned by the costs incurred. Hardyal Dhindsa, cabinet member for Communities and

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Streetpride, said: “We work with Derbyshire Constabulary and other partners to proactively address the needs of all communities, including Travellers, and to minimise any impact on council facilities.

“Whenever travellers stop at a council-owned site, our officers visit at the earliest opportunity and engage with the group. We will take any necessary action in line with our duties and procedures.”

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